Gov. Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee visit Perry County on May 8.


In Williamson County, positive COVID-19 cases hit 500 Friday while the death toll stayed at 10. 8,357 negative tests have been conducted, per the state

The Tennessee Department of Health on Friday afternoon — nearly three weeks since the state began reopening — reported a total of 19,394 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 433 cases from the number on Thursday. Of those people, 1,560 individuals have been hospitalized and 315 people have died, up 21 and two in 24 hours, respectively.

Nearly 7,587 test results were processed and reported since Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 368,170 people tested.

Gov. Bill Lee permitted large recreational facilities to open Friday, including movie theaters, mini-golf, bowling alleys and more, and reset the number of people allowed to gather to 50 people. Capacity restrictions have been removed for restaurants and retail stores in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties but social distancing recommendations remain.

In time for Memorial Day weekend, Lee said he believes Tennessee businesses are ready to reopen completely, even in counties with frequent tourism. 

“We have opened those venues in a way that allows for people to enjoy them so we haven’t made a particular outreach to encourage but we want our economy to open back up," Lee said during a briefing Thursday afternoon. "We want Tennesseans to return to work. We want tax revenues to increase again. We want to begin to mitigate this tremendous budget challenge we have as a state.

“We hope that people will in fact engage with our businesses here in Tennessee because we’ve done and created an environment in those businesses that [is] safe for patrons, that is safe for the employees. We have put a particular emphasis and focus in that part of our state because of the number of folks that travel there.”

Lee is also supporting a push by industry leaders and Republican legislators to draft a liability bill that would protect businesses and other organizations from coronavirus-related litigation. Senate and House committees will resume meeting starting next week, with both bodies taking the floor starting June 1. 

This post originally appeared in our sister publication, the Nashville Post

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